Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Rescuers struggle to reach stranded in Myanmar dam flooding

BAGO: Rescuers in boats negotiated muddy waters on Thursday to reach thousands stranded in central Myanmar after a dam overflowed, sending a torrent of water across farmland and villages.

No casualties have yet been reported but state media said more than 63,000 people in Bago region were affected after the Swar Chaung dam overflowed early Wednesday morning.

The dam’s spillway, a structure that controls the release of more than 20,000 cubic metres of water held in Swar Chaung’s levee, was broken by seasonal rainfall.

Slabs of concrete where the spillway once stood were left in ruins as a steady stream of water drained out of the reservoir and spilled out into surrounding farmland.

Making up a part of the dam’s walls, the structure – which engineers onsite called a “duck bill” – once stood 120 metres (400 feet) high. Local engineers walked along the edges of the dam’s walls inspecting the damage, while authorities appeared to be absent from the site.

It is the second major regional flood caused by damage to a dam in weeks, after at least 35 people were killed, scores left missing and thousands displaced by a collapsed hydropower facility in neighbouring Laos.

AFP reporters in Bago province saw soldiers sporting orange life jackets employed to rescue the stranded, steering tin boats to waiting villagers huddled on mudflats. Trucks were lodged in murky waters while roads had buckled under the weight of the waters, which continued to flow across the villages.

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